Didyma near Didim: why you need to look beyond the Apollo Temple

The Apollo Temple in Didyma is usually not the first thing people think of when looking at Didim or Altınkum as a destination. The stretched out beaches, and lively entertainment options are the big draw for most tourists. If like us, you want to do things a bit differently, then you won’t regret dusting off the golden sand from your feet for a walk around Didyma. And if you are heading that way, make sure you look beyond the Temple of Apollo. The little streets of the old village are worth your time too, though of course, the sanctuary is getting most of the attention. Quite rightly so, as the temple is quite spectacular!

Monumental Is A Good Word To Describe The Apollo Temple

Monumental Is A Good Word To Describe The Apollo Temple

Didyma’s Apollo Temple: sacred even before the Greeks arrived

When the Greeks arrived at Didyma, there was already an oracular on the spot where the current Temple of Apollo is. All they had to do was reclaim the place and turn it into a shrine for Apollo Philesios. The first Greek temple in Didyma dates back to the 8th Century BC. According to temple standards, it was a rather modest model with a sacred area that was enclosed with a collonade the next century. Still, the Oracle became very important, almost as significant as Delphi. The Persians destroyed the original temple in 493BC, after which it was left in disrepair until Alexander the Great arrived at Didyma.

Three Columns In Didyma Are Still Standing At Their Full Height

Three Columns In Didyma Are Still Standing At Their Full Height

The Lion Is Watching

The Lion Is Watching

Legend has it that the holy spring started to flow again after his arrival and it was decided the temple was going to be rebuilt to be the largest in the Hellenistic world. In reality, it was never finished even though works continued in Roman times when the Medusa’s were added. Still, the Apollo Temple in Didim is impressive. It may have been a bit smaller than the Temple of Artemis near Ephesus in its heydays, but it beats the Artemision by far if you visit both nowadays.

With People Standing Next To Them, You Get A Good Idea Of The Monumental Dimensions Of The Columns

With People Standing Next To Them, You Get A Good Idea Of The Monumental Dimensions Of The Columns

Staircase On The East Side Of The Temple

Staircase On The East Side Of The Temple

72 columns impress at the Temple of Apollo in Didim

Just outside of Didim, in the Yenihisar district, lies the authentic village of Didyma, home to the Temple of Apollo or Didymaion. The 120m long and 25m high temple dominates the view and the conversation. You can’t help but feel impressed as soon as you lay eyes on the Oracle. The original plan showed 122 columns, of which only 72 were built. Still, from the grand staircases over the still standing columns and walls, everything about this place is monumental and in significant contrast with the modest village surrounding it.

Massive Column Bases At Didyma

Massive Column Bases At Didyma

Going up the staircase, you arrive at the vestibule where the elaborately decorated column bases are a feast for the eye. Walking past the three rows of columns, you’ll notice two tunnels on each side. They take you down to the inner courtyard, which was not accessible to the public at the time that the Oracle was still in use. The 21 meter long tunnels are remarkably well-preserved, totally intact even, and something we hadn’t seen at any other site in Turkey yet.

Columns In The Vestibule

Columns In The Vestibule

One Of The Two Impressive And Completely Intact Tunnels To The Cella

One Of The Two Impressive And Completely Intact Tunnels To The Cella

Inside the inner courtyard, where the sacred spring was, you are surrounded by high walls. To the north, a staircase takes you up to what used to be the Oracle’s office, where the wisdom of the Oracle was put down on paper. It is said the cella was richly decorated, also with Medusa’s.

Winged Lion In The Cella At Didyma

Winged Lion In The Cella At Didyma

Another Beautiful Artifact Inside The Inner Courtyard

Another Beautiful Artifact Inside The Inner Courtyard

A sanctuary with a board game carved into the floor

One of the stones used at Didyma has a distinct pattern carved into it. It seems this was an ancient board game called Duodecim Scripta or Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum. Similar items were found at Aphrodisias and Ephesus. The Latin name of the game means the Game of Twelve Inscriptions. If you feel like trying it while you’re at Didyma, we challenge you to find the stone first. If you’re up to that, head to the rules of the game and some more historical background.

What Is Said To Be A Board Game Duodecim Scripta

What Is Said To Be A Board Game Duodecim Scripta

Didyma, the village surrounding the Oracle

If you’re visiting the Apollo Temple, make sure to take the time to discover the village surrounding the temple. It’s lovely, friendly, and it’s home to a beautiful Greek church, (now a mosque), and some quaint stone houses and narrow streets.

Picture Perfect Quaint Didyma

Picture Perfect Quaint Didyma

The Lovely Old Greek Church At Didyma

The Lovely Old Greek Church At Didyma

Lovely View In Didyma

Lovely View In Didyma

Visiting the temple and the village doesn’t take hours, so you can easily combine it with a stop at Miletus, which was connected to Didyma by a sacred road in the 6th Century BC. If you ask us, the best time to visit the Apollo Temple is either early in the morning, or at sunset, when the magic happens. There are plenty of lovely eateries overlooking the sanctuary, so a sunset dinner at Didyma is the perfect ending to the day. The Apollo Temple is open every day from April 1st till October 1st from 8 am till 7 pm. Over winter opening hours are from 8:30 am till 4:15 pm.

Sunset At The Apollo Temple In Didyma

Sunset At The Apollo Temple In Didyma

If you’re looking for more places to visit in the area, Priene, eski Doğanbey and Güllübahçe are lovely, as is Lake Bafa or Çomakdağ. Don’t forget our Turkey travel map is a great tool to help you plan your itinerary.

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We’re all different people, so checking Didyma reviews on TripAdvisor is always a good idea! Just know we’ve visited each place personally and all photos are our own. So, basically, what you see is what you get. If you have any questions about a place, feel free to ask. You can send us a message through our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

Turkey is a perfectly safe country to travel, except for these risks. Still, you should never travel without proper insurance. We love World Nomads’ travel insurance. We love their philosophy and their take on responsible travel, but also the fact that they cover popular activities in Turkey such as paragliding or balloon rides.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

You must have guessed it already, we’re independent travelers. Joining groups for excursions or activities isn’t really our cup of tea. But we fully understand that not everyone is keen on exploring Turkey on their own. That’s when Get Your Guide comes in handy. They offer plenty of activities and sightseeing tours that you can pre-book online.

If you’re more into a personalized experience while enjoying the services of a guide, Tours by Locals may be what you’re looking for! We just love them! You get the knowledge and assistance of a local, and the experience of independent traveling. Best of both worlds, really.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

We still love to use Booking.com when searching for the perfect hotel or vacation rental in Turkey. Unfortunately, the website isn’t accessible from within Turkey without the use of a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, and you’re already in Turkey, Hotels.com is a good alternative.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country here. Note that the airports closest to Didim are Bodrum-Milas and Izmir.

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

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Check the weather

Never wonder about the weather in Turkey again. The Turkish climate is as diverse as the country with significant differences between the regions.

This page contains the current weather and weather statistics for all regions in Turkey.

Prepare your trip

How to order a tourist visa for Turkey?

What about public transport?
Can you skip the line at Istanbul Airports?

General Turkey travel information, essential to help prepare your trip, on one page!

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Get direct access to your target audience with a proven interest in Turkey. People call us their Turkey Bible!

Contact us for a feature on our map, a destination guide, a photo shoot, or any form of professional Turkey-related content.

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Are you unsure about a destination, activity or hotel? Why don’t you ask other travelers about their experience?

We have a closed Facebook group where you can ask all Turkey-related questions. You’ll get solid advice and travel inspiration.

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The #ApolloTemple in #Didyma, near #Didim, is a sacred site & a quite spectacular one too! When visiting, go explore the village surrounding it, it\'s lovely! #Turkey